"Fish Crier"
Below is the poem, with analysis at the bottom.


I know a Jew fish crier down on Maxwell Street with a
   voice like a north wind blowing over corn stubble
   in January.
He dangles herring before prospective customers evinc-
   ing a joy identical with that of Pavlowa dancing.
His face is that of a man terribly glad to be selling fish,
   terribly glad that God made fish, and customers to
   whom he may call his wares from a pushcart.

A Student's Analysis

Keeping with Sandburg's focus on the people that make up the city, "Fish Crier" reinforces the image that the hard-working people of Chicago are proud to do what they do.  And in this pride, they can find happiness.

"Fish Crier" shows us a man who sells fish for a living in Chicago.  This has to be a terrible job in the sense that he spends the day around fish, yelling to attract customers.  But he finds joy in being able to do his job well and he is glad for everything he has.

Sandburg leaves us with a little bit of room for interpretation though.  For the most part, this poem seems to be one in which a person makes the best out of his situation.  But Sandburg chooses the words "terribly glad" (line 6) to describe how the fish crier feels.  This antithesis leaves us for room to interpret that he may not be as happy as he appears.

Sandburg reinforces his idea that Chicago is a proud city, where the people can find joy in the hard work they do.

This website is a student project created for the University of Michigan's English 280 class.  Created by Chris Stallman